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Olympics organizers ban spectators in Tokyo after PM Abe declares state of emergency in the city

Thursday, 8 July 2021 (14:59 IST)
The Olympic Games will be held with no spectators in the city area of Tokyo, organizers announced on Thursday, after Japan's Prime Minister called a state of emergency in the Japanese capital. 

Despite the ban inside the Tokyo Metropolitan Area, Olympic venues in Fukushima, Miyagi and Shizuoka may still be allowed to be 50% full up to a maximum of 50,000 spectators.

"We had no other choice," said local organizing chief Seiko Hashimoto on Thursday about the Tokyo city ban, after originally hoping the venues could be at least half full.

The Tokyo Games, scheduled from July 23 to August 8, are being held after a delay despite opposition from medical experts and the majority of the public.

Japan has already banned overseas spectators in a bid to curb infections. The officials have also set a cap on domestic viewers at 50% of capacity, up to 10,000 people, before deciding for a complete ban within the capital.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach arrived in Japan on Thursday. He is set to spend three days in self-isolation to minimize the risk of infection.

Exceptions to the rule

Japanese Olympics Minister Tamayo Marukawa said on Thursday, that some venues outside the Greater Tokyo Metropolitan Area will be allowed a limited number of spectators.

Olympic venues in Fukushima, Miyagi and Shizuoka will allow up to 50% capacity up to a maximum of 10,000 spectators, Murukawa said.

Spectators could be allowed at Paralympic events too, although this will be decided at the end of the Olympics on August 8.

These exceptions were worked out after a meeting between the International Olympic Committee, host city Tokyo and other authorities.

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